It was a beautiful sunshine-soaked day in the Scottish Highlands in Perth and I’m ready to sit the AF7 exam.

Yes, I’ve done a couple before, but with this new exam, I am still curious as to how it’s presented to us and how best to tackle it – and that’s best done in the heat of the exam, under time pressure and obviously, with coffee and banana in hand!

[Incidentally, on checking my heart-rate just before 2pm on Tuesday it was the lowest of the day at 40beats/min…….].

Staying calm and choosing where you start and how you start the exam is so important.  You need to start at the point in which you feel most confident.

And the best starting point for this exam was NOT question 1 or question 2.

AF7 looks like it’s beginning to follow a pattern: technical questions in section 1 @33% of marks and always starting with a couple of ‘curve-balls’ and tricky questions……, it could be ANY paragraph from the WHOLE 300 page manual.  So how do you prepare for that?

You move on.

Don’t get stuck in headlights – move on to the low-hanging fruit.

Q3 – nice LTA question 6 marks

Q4 – lovely APTA question 12 marks

Section 1 assessment:

31 marks: 13 marks tricky and 18 fair = a good score is 15-20

BUT, I didn’t start here……

I actually read the paper for 10mins: I read all of section 1 and then the two case studies in section 2 (which was for a total of 69 marks) – section 2 being a nice 69% of the marks.

Both case studies were fair.

We’ve done them a few times in different guises – different names, different kids, different schemes, different objectives and different, different, different personal circumstances…..

Having read the WHOLE paper, I decided to start at Q12.

I decided to start at q12 and work backwards…

Q12: nice 6 marks on cashflow to get started in the exam. Good start

Q11, then Q10, then Q9 – all based on Simon’s family and personal circumstances.

These case study answers MUST be advised/answered like you were advising SIMON: and NOT list a whole load of waffley bollocks……

Nice case study.

Nothing too difficult.

All the answers were in the case study.

40mins later – 33 marks in the bag.

It’s now 2.50pm.

Got to keep moving….

On to Asher and Ester…

Same again: ‘’ all based on Asher’s family and personal circumstances’’

Different case, but same routine:

*personal answers from case study info

*Bullet points

*Key words

In this case study we had the fact-finding question: this ‘additional information’ question was a type of which we had practised over and over and over…..

This exam is testing as much about what is missing than what is given in the case study……

Fair case study.

Time now: 3.35pm and another 36 marks done……..

25mins left and the heart-rate is going up a bit.

I’ve gone to do Q4 on APTA: that was a gift (12 marks).

It’s 3.45pm now..

Then 5 mins on LTA question for 6 marks…..

It’s now 3.52pm and I’ve now got 8 mins for Q1 and Q2: 13 marks available.

I decide to do Q1 (6 marks) and at 3.59 start Q2…….

4pm: I’m done.

Pens down.

2hrs of intense concentration and careful time management.

It’s tested my fact-finding skills, technical analysis and knowledge and advice skills.

I love it.

It keeps me sharp. It keeps me focused and it keeps it real.

I would not expect ANYONEto do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.

I expect EVERY trainer and every adviser to be competent in the subject they teach or advise: why wouldn’t you provide independent confirmation of that, every year?  I will be on the exam journey again, with my AF7 troops, in July.

Yes, some won’t have made it this time.  But, I’ll be with every single one of them come July.   I’ll be sharing my knowledge, experience, time and my team to ensure that we get you over those exam goal posts. 

We are the best prepared, best structured, best study package for the AF7 exam in the UK, bar none.

Come and join us for a fun-packed summer fest of pensions.

What else would you be doing on a beautiful autumnal October afternoon in Perth?